homepage logo


Can you go a day without your cell?

By Staff | May 31, 2015

Do you own a cell phone? Is it a smart phone? Is it within easy reach of your hand from where you are sitting right now, reading this column?

I thought so.

Let’s face it. It seems everyone from the age of six to sixty owns a cellular phone. And I am not so sure my parameters are wide enough. How about everyone five to ninety-five?

Sure, I have one. I’ve had one for 20 years. That first one was a Motorola bag phone, and man, did it have range. It had to. There were only two cell towers in all of southern Minnesota.

I thought I needed one because I was a busy newspaperman, and I needed to be able to be contacted immediately in case there was a big breaking news story.

There were a lot of those big breaking news stories in the town of 1,257 people I was living in.

A friend of mine got a cell phone about the same time as I did. His wife gave it to him as a birthday gift.

His response? “Oh great, a gift I’m going to pay $50 a month for, for the rest of my life.”

But, I digress.

No matter where you go these days, people are on their cell phones. At work, at school, in a restaurant, at the theater, driving, walking, roller blading, in the bathroom and probably in bed.

And they are not always talking on it. In fact, they seem to just stare at it a lot. Sure, sure, they are texting, checking email, sending email, checking the weather, Facebooking, tweeting, playing a video game, taking a selfie, sending that selfie, watching a movie or maybe downloading the latest hot app. And yes, once in a while, they are actually talking to someone on the phone.

Sometimes it is amazing to be somewhere, like a restaurant, and see everyone at a table with a cell phone in their hand checking their messages. Then you realize it is not just one table, it is many of them.

I see people checking their phones at meetings, sporting events and yes, even in church.

Yes, I said in church. Would I lie?

My pet peeve is people who forget to turn off their phones during a meeting or event and their phone rings and then they have the moxie to answer it and talk to the person.

Sometimes it is just to say, “I can’t talk now, I am in a meeting. You’ll have to call me back later.”

You gotta be kidding me. Just don’t answer the stupid thing.

Okay, so here is my question.

Can you live without your phone for a day? How about for a week?

If you said yes, I wonder if you are kidding yourself.

Take the test. Turn off the phone, put it away for the whole day. I know you can’t do it for a full week, so just try it for a day.

Can you do it, or will you get withdrawal symptoms like a drug addict going cold turkey. The shakes, the sweats, the lack of concentration. The delirium tenems.

You probably are asking if I can do it. Live without my phone for a day.

Well, I just spent Memorial Day weekend camping on the Whitewater River near St. Charles.

We camp in a beautiful, deep-cut, hidden valley with a trout stream flowing through it. Been doing it for 40 years.

And guess what?

Cell phones don’t work there. The hills are too steep to get any kind of reception.

So, we turn the phones off and leave them in the vehicle. For two, three or even four days at a time.

And, it is heaven.

I tell our visitors that their phones won’t work there, but later I catch them trying to get a signal somewhere, somehow. When they can’t, they look at me in surprise and say, “Hey, my phone doesn’t work here.”

“Right…isn’t that great?” I reply.

They don’t always seem so sure that it is.

Of course, eventually I have to come up out of the valley, turn the phone back on and face reality.

It beeps and chirps, letting me know I have dozens of emails, texts and missed calls.

But you know what? I think I will get to those later. I think I can live without my phone for a few hours more.

Right after I make just one little post on Facebook so everyone knows what a great time I had camping…